This observation by this fall’s Spotlight recipient, Anna Freeman sums up her belief that the elemental approach brings to her teaching the unlimited possibilities for developing musicality in her students. She believes that amid the numerous demands placed upon today’s music teachers, including literacy and assessment, that musicality should remain foremost.
Now in her eighth year of teaching, Anna works with students in grades K-6 at the Dodson Elementary School, a Title I School in Reno, Nevada and is focused on building music-making experiences and establishing traditions in her school.
Anna teaches over 400 students in grades K- 6 in her school and meets with many of her students for half-hour sessions twice a week. In addition, she has a 6th grade choir, which has combined with other area elementary choirs for performances. Anna comments on time well-spent in bringing out the best in young musicians…
Each grade level performs at least once a year. Improvisation is featured in all performances and Anna works to ensure that there is a lot of student input in developing the themes. While upper grades have concentrated on recorder, drumming and rhythmic themes, the second and third grades used a Polynesian folk tale, Surf War! as a springboard for music and movement pieces. The folktale, was collected and retold by Margaret Read MacDonald and illustrated by Geraldo Valério.
As someone who uses an elemental approach, Anna describes the unlimited teaching possibilities in this way:
My students are learning music through an elemental approach; imitating and then creating their own patterns of speech, movement, body percussion, and instrumental music. The students and I all benefit from this freedom for creativity and imagination! This simple idea of pattern recognition allows for surprisingly complex and beautiful musical experiences.
Anna has expanded her teaching influence into the larger community. In the fall of 2015 she conducted the Elementary Honor Choir for the Washoe County School District in Northern Nevada with over 100 children participating. Students attended after-school rehearsals for several weeks, and due to limited time, Anna created rehearsal videos so the students could practice with their octavos at home.
This was Anna’s first experience conducting a large group of children, and while that was a challenging experience, she said it was helpful to have colleagues to help facilitate the rehearsals and the concert for her and the children. In true Reno, Nevada fashion, the concert was held in a local casino. Colleague Alexandra Coghill, commented on the enthusiasm she witnessed in these rehearsals…
Anna carries her love for music and dance into other areas of her life. She performed Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” with the Reno Philharmonic Chorus. She also directs Dulce, one of the three children’s choirs in the Sierra Nevada Children’s Choir organization. This choir is for grades 4-6.
Anna holds a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from the University of Nevada, Reno and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University. She completed all three Levels of her Orff Schulwerk Certification at the San Francisco International Orff Course in 2017.
In a short amount of time, Anna has made an impact on her school community. Comments from her administrators and students pay tribute to her teaching and influence.
Anna Freeman is truly an outstanding music educator. She demonstrates enthusiasm for her students and the subject she teaches. The students in her classes not only gain a great deal of knowledge about music concepts, they learn the enjoyment that comes from learning about music. Mrs. Freeman’s dedication and knowledge as a music teacher have made her an integral part of the Dodson community.
~Don McHenry, Principal
Anna is a hard-working, dedicated staff of Dodson elementary. As an administrator of Dodson, she is one I can always count on. She jumps into any situation where needed. She has a passion for teaching kids and it shows every day she is present. Anna is considered to be a great team player and the backbone of Dodson Elementary.
~ Jeff Batavia, Assistant Principal
In addition to being an expert educator and strong musician, Anna is playful, curious, and smart. She stands out in our local Orff workshops because of her engagement with presenters and insightful conversations about lessons and process. Anna’s physical fitness allows her to shine as a dancer, but she stands out as a collaborator often looking to compliment movement and musical ideas of others.
~ Alexandra Coghill, colleague
Mrs. Freeman makes learning fun and exciting. She is super nice and helps everyone. She makes up music games that are fun.
~ Tristan, student
~ Connor, student
I love her singing and coming to her class.
~ Raqhav, student
She is always singing and humming to herself and it makes my day happy.
~ Travis, student
She always tries to give us the best musical education she possibly can. For example, she is so sweet and caring. Even if we mess up on a song or something she will either give us one on one time or we will practice together with the whole class.
~ Ulysses, student
Thank you for nominating my favorite music teacher ever. My first reason is she is very supportive and has good vibes. She is always happy and she is never negative. She makes what we do fun. She tries to give us the best musical experience she can and we are very thankful we have her.
~ Ashley, student
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